Tito Puente

Let's Cha Cha with Puente

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Recorded over three days in New York in 1956, Let's Cha Cha Cha is one of a multitude of early albums from Tito Puente & His Orchestra. In 1994, RCA remastered it among others as part of a Tropical Series. The album opens with a cha cha, then through a nice piece from Obdulio Morales and into a guajira on the vibes (Puente's much-less-known instrument, but an exciting performance). Another cha cha follows in the title track, followed itself by a light horn and flute romp with remnants of the Big Bad Wolf involved. A punchier work from Ray Coen comes in "Habenero" and Johnny Conquet's "Just for You" and "Cha Cha Fiesta" are both exemplar simple cha chas. A pair from Justi Barreto follow with a vocal aspect added in that gives them a bit more flavor, and a piece from Mongo Santamaria follows them up. The album finishes on a pair from Puente himself, with some slightly more complex horn arrangements. All in all, it's perhaps not as exciting as a lot of his later work, but it's a fine example of his full arranging abilities and the earlier, less percussion-based cha chas, mambos, and exotica that formed the basis for Puente's success. Fans of Puente should certainly give the album a shot, though newcomers might do better to start with a retrospective of some sort.

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